Is It All That Difficult To Figure Out How Religious Voters Think?

Ever so often in the mainsteam media, you’ll run across a story written by a liberal reporter pondering the profound mystery of conservatives. What makes them tick? Why are they so uncivilized? Are they really taking orders from Rush Limbaugh? In short, conservatives are treated as these baffling creatures that are impossible for the “normal” person to understand.

Well, now that the Democrats have decided that it’s important to attract more religious voters, they’ve begun the same process with Christians and it’s really fascinating to watch liberals who are largely hostile to religious people try to figure out how they think.

Read some of the details from this story in the Washington Times and you’ll see what I mean:

“The 58-year-old man stepped to the microphone and spoke like a zealous Christian anxious to learn about carrying the Gospel to nonbelievers.

“We’re trying to understand these people. How do we reach out to them?” asked Wayne Reagan, 58, a retired Housing Authority official.

… Mr. Reagan, who is not religious, attended a conference Friday and Saturday at the City College of New York, called “Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right.” The event was sponsored by the New York Open Center, a holistic learning center, and by the People for the American Way Foundation.

…The conference on the religious right was conceived six months ago by Open Center co-founder Ralph White, who heard a discussion of “dominionism” on a political talk show. He didn’t know the meaning of the word, which refers to the belief — based on Genesis 1:26 and other biblical texts — that Christians should extend God’s sovereignty over the political sphere.

….Some at the conference expressed hostility toward Christian conservatives. One attendee said during a question-and-answer period that she thought the Christian conservative movement is the embodiment of the Antichrist. Joan Bokaer, founder of TheocracyWatch, said conservative politicians have manipulated Christians to vote for them since the mid-1960s.

… Jeffrey Sharlett, who runs a daily report on religion in the press called the Revealer, said liberals should be in, but not of, the Christian conservative movement.

“Instead of railing against the Christian right,” he said, liberals should be “going out and talking to them and writing stories about your experience with them.”

Is this really rocket science? Is it really so hard to figure out why someone who’s religious might see Republicans as better representing their interests than Democrats who have these bizarre conspiracy theories about “dominionism” and “theocracies” — and who have to be trotted out?

Let me just take a few moments to explain a few things to these puzzled liberals.

To begin with, if you think religious people are unsophisticated, gullible rubes and you’re repulsed by them, it generally comes through loud and clear, whether you try to hide it or not. While there are a few of those type on the right, mostly libertarians, the overwhelming majority of them are on the left. Remember the “Jesusland” meme that the left was going on and on about right after the 2004 elections? People don’t forget that sort of thing.

Furthermore, it’s not enough to toss out a few religious verses at election time, when you go into a black church, or when you show up for a campaign stop down South. People have got to believe that you’re the real deal, not just making a shallow political pitch. So if you’re not a politician who has talked about religion enough to cheese off the anti-religious zealots (like Bush when he said Jesus was his favorite philosopher), you probably should shoot for that. It’ll give you a little street cred and keep people from questioning your sincerity.

Last but not last, you can talk about Jesus all day, every day (Are you listening, Howard Dean?), but if you love the ACLU, think the Boy Scouts are a hate group, and support gay marriage, you’re going to have trouble connecting with a lot of religious voters.

Summing it all up: If you want the support of religious voters, all you need to do is:

1) Like religious people.
2) Come across as genuinely religious, not as just using religion for political gain.
3) Support positions that are important to religious people.

Is that really so difficult to figure out?

Hat tip to Right Thinking Girl for the story.

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